Friday, December 24, 2010

Happy Christmas (or whatever your winter holiday of choice) :-D

Happy Holidays from!

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

I've been waiting forever for Full Tilt to come back online! Of course, it's never down (unless I want to play!) I have renewed vigor to play since I realized that Poker Tracker is now available for Mac :)

It's also tea time. Tea is my new thing. I need to get some decaf chai tea, because the chai green tea I'm currently enjoying is caffeinated, and I cut out caffeine a few years ago. Luckily, I found a Tazo decaf chai (which is probably delish, as it's the Tazo regular chai that I fell in love with at Starbucks, per Maura's advice at the WPBT Winter Classic last weekend).

Tonight, though, I'm hitting an herbal tea - an apple cinnamon concoction - because it's too late at night to hit the caf-pow chai. I've got a KO SnG going on Full Tilt now. Watching Poker After Dark, and Jennifer Harman just explained that 6 pack abs are hard to pull off - a 5 pack is easy. It's the 6th pack that's hard. LMAO! I'll take 5. That's fine.

Poker After Dark seems very slow now, after I've grown to enjoy the Big Game with the Loose Cannon. I love Jennifer Harman though. I'll deal with it.

Oooh, Aces!

And, at this joker-riffic table, I doubled up. My competitor said in chat, "$!!@ing retards ONLY PLAYING ACES." Yup! 10 hands into the tourney. You know me so well. Keep on shipping with your pocket 5's 10 hands in, scooby. Doobeedooo!

I see Annie Duke is drinking tea too. So, who are my tea drinkers out there? I need some suggestions on how to become a tea aficionado.

So here's a question. Some people sit there with the same tea bag, filling their cups over and over. Yet, on the tea box instructions, it says 1 tea bag per 8 oz. cup. My mugs are 16 oz. so I'm using 2 tea bags. I tried using just 1 (thinking people make multiple cups out of their 1 tea bag), and it was too weak. Blech. So, what am I missing? Do those people just drink weak tea?

So, all you Chicago locals have to get with me this summer. I'm captaining a Relay for Life team to benefit the American Cancer Society, in honor and memory of my dad and other friends and family members that have been affected by cancer. The event isn't until July, so there's plenty of time to mark your calendars and come out and join Team: What About Bob? or donate :)

Chugging along... nothing doing in my FTP tourney.... I just labeled somebody an "aggro fish." Moving right along, about 20% above the average chip stack.

But man, the aggro fish is just getting smacked on the side of the head with the deck. Ugh.

Update: Sweet! I just knocked out the aggro fish! Trudging through hand-for-hand now.... and... on break! Bubble is next to go. I should be able to fold long enough to get past it, but you never know...

Whew! Would you believe I almost bubbled? LOL, AQ vs 99, but I flopped top pair. Wheee final table!

Alrighty, time to pay attention. Here goes!

Friday, December 17, 2010

Day 4:

Sunday started out as a bit of a cluster*#ck. Minneapolis Airport was completely shut down on Sunday night due to a blizzard, and Chicago was under a winter weather advisory with high winds. I really did not want to sleep in the airport, because I figured I'd eventually get to MN, but there was no way my evening Chicago flight was going to make it. So I tried to call Delta to rebook my flights for Monday. For 2 hours, I couldn't get through, because their phone recording said that they couldn't answer my call due to extreme weather. Their headquarters is in MN. Gah!

Eventually, I got through, and while the customer service rep initially said that my flights did not appear to be affected (they showed as "on time" online), I explained that by the time I have to catch the flights that afternoon, that situation would likely change. He put me on hold with his awesome Australian accent, and came back and agreed to rebook me based on the weather conditions in MN. I got an 11am flight the next morning, but then his computer wasn't working properly and he transferred me to someone else to do the actual booking. I had to go through the whole situation again with her, as she was of course saying, "Your flights don't appear to be affected..." After a few holds, she came back and rebooked me. Whew! I had no trouble getting a room at MGM, as the rodeo was heading out of town and MGM was glad to have me.

It turns out, my original flight to MN was delayed by 4 hours, and my flight to Chicago was canceled. (I would have missed it anyway, and it was the last flight of the day to Chicago). So I would have ended up sleeping at the MN airport. All hail proactiveness! (Is that a word?)

These new flight plans allowed me to make it to Legasse's Stadium at the Palazzo, Emeril's place (BAM!) Full Tilt was sponsoring part of the food/bar tab, and what great food it was! I had cheese pizza and some awesome hummus. For me to say the pizza was fantastic is a big deal - I'm from Chicago, people. I know pizza. Delicious. So good! I ate way too much and was finally able to pawn off the last two pieces of pizza to Alan.

I got to see just how awful the snow was in Chicago on the big screen (while the Bears were getting crushed). I was glad to stay in the Vegas weather for one more day!

April, Maura, and I bid farewell to the blogger-folk after a few hours and walked over to the Wynn. I'd never been there. Nice place. Like I said, I may check out their limit games next time MGM can't get anything going for me. Maura and April then headed back to their room and I headed down to the MGM poker room. I spent a few hours losing and winning the same $50 at 1/2 NL. April let me know that they were going to watch the Amazing Race finale and would come get me afterward. Sounded good to me - we had plans to find a cheap craps table!!

In the meantime, I hit gold. The fact that it was against a bunch of frat boys (one of which was so drunk he kept ordering Red Bull and vodkas, forgetting that he had one in his cup holder each time) was just a bonus.... set over set over straight, 4 way all in - and me with the nut flush draw. The pot was laying me 4:1 to make the call all-in after the flop, and I was 4-flushed. I was either gonna get up and go play craps, or win a shit-ton of loot. All in!

And... SCORE!

The three frat boys immediately left the table in disgust. I didn't notice until after I finished stacking all those pretty pretty chips.

I played for another 45 minutes or so, until April and Maura came down to get me. I made back my whole weekend bankroll right there. That's what I needed :)

First, we walked across the street to Hooters, hoping to find a cheap craps table. No luck - and, ewww. Hooters is so blah. I think even the restaurants are nicer than the casino. So we walked over to the "improved" Tropicana, and - wow! Very nice! Very clean, very white. I would definitely stay there! Many people noted how scummy the place was in recent past, but they've done a great job with the remodeling and redecoration. I liked it, anyway.

We played some slots to take advantage of a new player card promotion, and while we played, the craps tables dropped to $5! Maura and I played a little craps (it was her first time), and while we didn't win anything, we had some fun. It was a perfect, quiet table for learning the game. And I love rolling the dice!

And that was about it... I headed back to my room and crashed out, then packed up on Monday morning and headed out. All of my flights went OK on Monday with only minor delays. Still, it was 11pm before I pulled into my driveway at home. Long, long day.

Overall, a most excellent trip. I had such a blast seeing everybody, and it's always fun to come home even! :-D I can't wait till next year!

Day 3:

Tourney day!!!

First up: My very first chai tea latte ever. I had mentioned to my new favorite foodie, Maura, that I had been trying different teas lately. It's friggin cold in Chicago, and I don't like coffee. Hot chocolate has too damn many calories, so I've been trying to acquire a taste for tea. Maura suggested I try the chai tea latte at Starbucks, so I did, with soy milk. It was wonderful!! I cannot allow myself to get anything more than the Tall. At 145 calories, an occasional tall won't kill me, but I don't like to drink my calories (at least not while I'm trying to lose weight). But oh... so good! I've since bought some organic free trade chai green tea to make my own lattes, minus the sweetener. So good! It's my new favorite thing.

I was excited to check out Aria. Beautiful place. They really treated us right and had super comfy adjustable chairs in the poker room. I drew table 2 seat 3, up in the back room. Poker Grump was at my table, as well as Otis, Josie, and AlCan'tHang's personal assistant. Maigrey ended up at table 2, as well as BadBlood and briefly, Iggy. (I'm missing some people, but again... no notes. Sorry).

I won my first bounty from Poker Grump. Thank goodness, because I hadn't packed any extra clothes and so at least I had a clean t-shirt to wear when my flights got rebooked and I had to stay in Vegas an extra day!

I'm sad to report that I didn't bring a bounty prize. I had meant to - I was going to make a box of Scooby Snacks - but I just didn't have time. Next year, I promise!

The next bounty I picked up was after a table change. I can't remember who I won it from (somebody help me!!) - but it's the infamous Wild Turkey shooter that has passed through several hands, including those of Dr. Pauly and OhCaptain. I had to throw away a bottle of shampoo in order to fit the Wild Turkey into my liquid carry-on baggie, but it was so worth it! Now I have a must-attend order in place for the 2011 Winter Classic. :)

My favorite bounty, though, was a very cool photograph from OhCaptain. I didn't manage to get it signed - that means he has to come out to Vegas in 2011, too!

As we got later into the game, I was staaaarving! On a break, I ran around the corner and paid $20 for a falafel sandwich. I had no idea what falafel was, but it was the only vegetarian option available. It turned out to be delicious! I like falafel. The Aria folks pulled up a side table for me and I nom'd in between hands. I finally got to meet the real Dawn Summers at that table, too.

I was in good chip position as we broke to two tables, but a couple unlucky hits put me into bad shape as the bubble approached. I did what I could.... 9 places paid, but the bubble got a prize, so in my definition of the bubble, it was 11th place (i.e. the first place that gets no prize). Whaddya know... I finished 11th. That makes me the first blogger to bubble in two different WPBT tournaments!! Woohooo!!

I was hugely disappointed, mostly because my last-longer teammates were counting on me. We actually had a shot to make the top 3 teams, had I lasted through a few more bust-outs. Sorry, guys :( I tried!

CJ later told me that 10th place agreed to chop the bubble prize with me, since we busted at the same time (though s/he had more chips than I did - I'm not even sure who it was!) So, I got $50 for my 9 hours of play. Oy. Better than nothing, but still... I'm bummed that I let my team down. I wouldn't have done anything differently. Honestly, knowing my own weaknesses, I think I played my best game ever on Saturday. It just wasn't meant to be.

I watched a bit of the action and just couldn't get my head outta the funk, so I decided to walk back to MGM. I came across an art gallery on my way out of Aria and got my mojo back with some amazing nature photography. It was a nice walk back, and I decided to see what was happening in the MGM poker room.

Again, they couldn't get a limit table going, so I played 1/2 NL. Big mistake. I was very quickly exhausted, and I should have just left. I started getting all back into my head funk again, pulling that negative self-talk of, "Might as well lose it all... losing today anyway..." Thankfully I walked away after 1 buy-in and just went to bed.

Day 2:

Started out with breakfast at MGM's Studio Cafe with CA April. I had a very pretty veggie frittata, though I did learn that I don't really like artichokes (or maybe I just didn't like them in this particular preparation - I'll try them again someday). We headed to the MGM poker room to have a look around, and ran into Sweet Sweet Pablo (and I'm drawing a blank on everybody else, but there were a few of us!). We sat down to a .50/1.00 beginner's NL table (LMAO!)

I gave Evil Evil Pablo like $40 when I called him down just to see it. I think he took a big chunk off me later on too with a boat! Then he gave it all to the crank old guy to my right (GAH keep it in the family, brotha!!) I ended up dropping a hundo at a game that was supposed to just be for fun, but it's all good. We had fun.

I'm trying to remember what we did next... What the heck did we do Friday?! Oh, I think I remember! We tram'd it down to Mandalay Bay to check out the Burger Bar. I had read that they had an excellent veggie burger (and they did!). Now, THAT was some good eats! Sweet potato fries... nom nom nom.

Then, it was back to MGM, where the mixed games were starting up. I decided to skip the mixed games this year. Played some NL (because MGM was completely incapable of getting a 3/6 or 4/8 limit table going all weekend - fail. I did later discover that the Wynn runs 4/8 limit, so I may have to keep that in mind). OhCaptain was getting kicked in the gut. I didn't fare much better. I did get to meet a drunk Waffles (finally!), who I doubt remembers meeting me until Saturday. :)

Day 1 - Geisha!:

It has been so long since I've written a trip report! That means I haven't been spending enough time in Vegas. Must rectify that in 2011.

Back in the day, I'd have a notebook full of scribbles to draw up my trip report from, but alas - I am an irresponsible blogger these days. Maybe if I carried one of those trendy moleskin notebooks, I'd take notes. And a fancy pen - I would need a fancy pen. But I didn't equip myself with such luxuries, so you're stuck with my powers of recollection.

The trip started out pretty bad. I've already bitched about my poor decision in booking a Delta trip with connections (since I had to pack everything in a carry-on to avoid the baggage fees). It turns out that Delta just sucked all around, and I'll never fly them again if I can help it. The first leg of my outbound flight to Minnesota was delayed by over 4 hours due to a mechanical problem on the plane. It wasn't a problem they were trying to fix, however - they just couldn't find a mechanic to override the automatic grounding function when a plane only has 2 of 3 de-ice systems working. They finally found a mechanic to override the system, and we flew to MN on 2 de-icers.

I was rebooked on a new connecting flight to Vegas with what appeared like it would be a 3 hour layover in MN. However, my first leg was so late that I had to play out that stereotypical scene of the girl running through the airport, bags in tow. I got to the gate and literally got right onto the plane. It was nuts. Off to Vegas.

The only good thing about the flight was that my second leg was on a wi-fi plane. It was my first time using in-flight wifi, which was free thanks to Google's holiday promotion. Of course, the flight was delayed sitting at the gate upon arrival because no crew was ready to usher us into the airport. Oy. Never again.

(Wifi, by the way, was pretty sweet. I'd say it was just about DSL-quality broadband speed. The only annoyance was that it kept dropping out and I had to keep re-signing in).

Since I had already missed CA April and Maura at the airport, I txt'd them to see where they were. Luckily, I'd arrived just in time to meet them for dinner at Mon Ami Gabi at Paris. I had an awesome roasted veggie platter (though anything probably would have seemed awesome - I was ready to eat my arm off by that point).

After dinner, I headed to MGM and checked in, then headed over to the Geisha Bar at IP. Make new friends, but keep the old.... I was lapping the craps tables when I ran into CA April and Maura. It was definitely a warm welcome to meet Numbono and be treated to a tequila shot. He didn't believe me that I didn't know the rules on how to do a tequila shot. Truth, yo. Also met OhCaptain, and Dr Chako and the Mrs. (BTW, the MGM wanted $25 to use their treadmills! Gah!). Compared tattoos with Falstaff, and solidified my newfound status as the third member of his last-longer team. Greeted Kat and talked Canada. Was Joanada there? Or was that the next day?

The best part of the night, though, was yet to come. After letting Iggy think I was some Geisha n00b for a while (hey, April must have told him 48 times, "You know this is Shelly, right?!"), I won a bet regarding my age. (It is quite handy to look a decade younger than I actually am!) Iggy checked out my driver's license and proceeded through a series of mortified apologies. (It's all good, dude!) With that, Iggy proceeded to challenge me to rock paper scissors. Can I just say - EVERY WOMAN'S DREAM! To just have the opportunity to throw down RPS vs. Iggy was momentous in itself, but...

To WIN?!

FIVE BUCKS! Wheeeee! I think I deserve a trophy.

Later on, two of my favorite peeps ever arrived: Gracie and Sweet Sweet Pablo! Chatted save-the-earth concerns with Gracie and old school metal with Pablo. I still think that guy totally looked like Bret Michaels and am only mildly embarrassed at how many of the lyrics to Unskinny Bop I remember.

I made it back to the hotel room around 3am and got some zzz's.

Wednesday, December 08, 2010

... and all through the house, could be heard me screaming "Why the hell did I pick this stupid cheap Delta flight, and how am I going to survive with just a carry-on??!"

I fly out tomorrow for the WPBT tourney (VEGAS, BABY!). Though I've seen a couple bloggers here and there, it has been several years since I've officially made it to a WPBT event. I'm excited to see everybody again!!

But I should have just booked Southwest. No layovers, no checked bag fees... so that's me, trying to save a dime. I realized last night that I will have to spend the weekend without any of my hair care products. That. Sucks.

Or, I suck it up and pay $50 to bring a checked suitcase - which means, the flight is no longer cheap, AND it has stupid layovers! Ugh.

Me = not brilliant.

But this cranberry whipped banana oatmeal I just made is the cat's ass. (That's a good thing, even though it doesn't sound like it).

I think last time I went to Vegas, I needed a new couch. I still need a new couch. I have delusions of grandeur that involve the deck smacking me upside the head, and me coming home with all kinds of phat loot. That's my story, and I'm sticking to it!!

I have a new cell phone number since last I met most of you, so if you're on Facebook and want the number, hit me up there!

See ya's soon!!!

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Happy Thanksgiving, everybody!

Have a safe and peaceful holiday, and good luck at the tables :)

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Enjoy it while it lasts! I'm in 1st place overall in the online poker league I play in. It's very early in the season, and a big win this week pushed me up the ranks. So I'll enjoy my 5 minutes of fame before I fall back into the middle of the pack... :)

I've been watching the Big Game on TV (the one with the whole loose canon thing). Week after week, it seems the players with the most cash in front of them are the ones 3 and 4 betting preflop. Now, of course, that only works because it's a pot limit game preflop on this show, but still. I think the message is clear: preflop aggression can be lucrative.

I've settled pretty comfortably over the years into a game that is a bit aggressive post-flop, but very passive preflop. And I do alright. But for the first time, I'm actually starting to believe that if I'd grow me a pair preflop, I could be more successful.

Can I beat my inner chicken and start raising a bit more preflop (and with hands other than top 10's?)

It sure would be nice to make some tweaks and get into a good groove for Vegas in December!

Monday, September 27, 2010

Summer's winding down, kids. To me, that means, poker season!

I live in Chicago, and it gets friggin cold here. Miserable cold. So I spend a lot more time indoors in the winter. Someday I hope for this not to be true - because I hope not to be in Chicago! I hope to be someplace warmer, someday. But for now... Chicago it is.

I've started saving up my poker fund for December's WPBT gathering. I haven't made it out to one in a few years, and can't wait to see everybody again (especially Waffles! Dude, have I ever even met you yet?!) Would love to see all of my buddies again :) I can't wait! And I'll definitely need some recovery time from the Chicago weather by then.

Who's with me for Vegas in December?!

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Has anybody noticed that Viffer looks like Goose in Top Gun? I didn't see it until they started interviewing him on The Big Game, after he rivered a pot against Giang. The mouth hanging open all the time has to go, but when nicely composed, he totally looks like Anthony Edwards.

I finished in the middle of the pack in the online poker league I played in. I'm debating playing the next season. The problem is, the games are on Monday nights at 8pm, and I work until 7pm. By the time I get out of work and home, I'd be lucky to be home in time. I'd most certainly miss at least a few minutes. But a few minutes isn't that bad, and I could probably make it home for the start of some games. We'll see.

I've warmed up a bit to The Big Game. The commentary has gotten better, and like my initial impression, I do like all of the statistics they provide. I really enjoyed the week with Nadia.

I am, however, getting sick of the colon cleanse and hair restoration commercials.

I've got a trip to San Diego coming up. Looks like the Barona Casino is about a half hour away. Any opinions of their poker room? Or other nearby poker rooms?

Ahh well. My little micro SnG on Full Tilt has ended anti-climatically. Such is life.

Friday, July 30, 2010

Like the title says... I hate it when the buffet is the best part of a poker night.

Don't get me wrong - I loves me a good buffet! I'm sure Ed would keep my secret, but in the spirit of full disclosure, yes. We hit up the Empress Casino buffet and I caved to the lure of chocolate-vanilla twist soft serve with a crumbled chocolate chip cookie on top. And yes, I'm about to go run 3 miles in penance.

Anyhooo, on the advice of a dealer at Empress, I headed back there last night with my friend Ed in tow to go fishing. The dealer said that Thursday nights were the best.

Boy, was she wrong. I spent 7 hours tossing lures into a friggin rock quarry.

I made good on my observation from the other night and bet after those orphan pots (and won a few of them). I also made bad on an old tendency to overplay big pocket pairs.

But let's back up a bit. I made it off of the feeder table up $50 or so - always a good thing. I settled into the main game and was in good company. I liked my neighbors to the left and right. We chatted photography and birds and poker TV and the passage of the HR2267 bill (one dealer hadn't heard about it. I felt so politically savvy).

I was fairly card dead throughout the night, but survived on conversation. About 5 hours in, I saw a flop with AK. Flopped the gutshot Broadway draw. Called an early position bet. The turn was a blank. The bettor checked to me. I took that as weakness, and I bet out. I was hoping to take the pot away from the guy right there. But then - whoops. Didn't realize there was another guy to act behind me. I thought we were heads up. He called. The other guy folded. (Damn. My semi-bluff probably would have worked had we been heads up). I should have taken a moment to recompose my thoughts. The realization of my screw-up had me discombobulated (though the dealer was not announcing the number of players in the hand like they usually do). The river fell a blank and I checked. The other guy bet out, and I figured I could only beat a bluff. I folded.

He showed his bluff - AQ. He was open-ended. My bluff was better than his! Had I pulled the trigger on the river, I'd have taken that pot.

I suck.

Then, one of the quieter regular old gents gave me some advice under his breath. Obviously, those two had tangled before. I believe the phrase he used was "reckless ol' bully," explaining that the guy bluffs all the time and bets with nothing. A punk kid rolled his eyes and nodded in agreement.

It really depends on the situation as to whether or not I take advice from regulars. Sometimes I sense that there's an unspoken bond between them that compels the regulars to stick together (and possibly mislead the non-regular "targets"). More often, though, the advice turns out to be genuine. I think I do get more unsolicited advice as a girl than I would as a guy, and in this case, I think it was genuine.

Noted: the Brett Hull lookin' guy is an aggro-bluffer (BH for short).

As the last couple hours wore on, I noted several hands where BH showed down crap, pushing all the way. This reinforced Gramp's advice, and I can't say that it wasn't in the back of my head as I embarked upon what would be my last hand of the night.

QQ in the big blind. I hate playing big hands from the blinds. Despise. Loathe. Did I mention that I hate playing big hands from the blinds? Grr. Anyway. It was limped 3 ways. I raised preflop to 6xBB (average raise for the table was 3.5x BB). Got 3 callers (surprise!). Flop came Axx. Small blind checked to me. I bet out $40 (pot size). BH (aggro-bluffer) called. The rest folded. Turn came a blank.

I'd been all in with BH one time since the bluff hand, and had beat him with a straight. In my trigger-happy (and rather exhausted) state, my puzzle assessment said that a) he'd assume that I had something (he thought I made a big laydown on his bluff, which is why he showed it, and the last time I went all in, I had a monster), and b) he had nothing, because he's a friggin aggro-donk bluffmonster.

I pushed all in. It was only about a pot-sized push, but still. He didn't take long to call with his Ace. I was felted.

Lesson for today: slow down. Even though I had a game plan during that last hand, had I slowed down and just reviewed my thoughts, I'd have come upon a realization that would probably have prevailed. Why play a big pot with just 2nd pair? He called a preflop raise. He could very well have an Ace. Sure, it had a craptacular kicker, but it was an Ace. Don't let the target on his forehead take precedent over solid reasoning. Trigger-happy moves tend to be careless moves.

Ed seemed to finish better than I did, though I left before him and didn't get the final tally. Now, it's time for me to go run off some of last night's buffet debauchery. (Thanks, Ed! nom nom nom). Speaking of - the Empress buffet was pretty good. It was no Vegas buffet (I really wish there was a section with Chinese food), but the food was good - above decent but below awesome.

Off to run!

Thursday, July 29, 2010

I checked out the "new" Empress Casino poker room last night. Well, it's new to me - I haven't been there since the fire. Wow, has it really been over a year? March 2009. *counts on fingers* Yup.

I've been watching a lot of episodes of The Big Game, and last night I was jonesing for some live poker, and I felt lucky. I had no luck finding an accomplice for my evening debauchery, but that has never stopped me before. That familiar adrenaline-fueled tingle jump started my heart as I pulled onto the casino grounds. Oh, how sweet it is!

I was quickly lost. The parking lot was no longer the parking lot. I missed the entrance for the parking garage (what?! There's a parking garage?!) and had to loop back around. Then, I drove around the parking garage looking for the casino entrance. Ahh, there it is!

I walked to the building and... oh boy, lost again. Elevators! OK... now what? Mazes of hallways! OK... wow, the old atrium is gone (presumably to be built back up into something even more spectacular someday). OK, walking through the maze... Then, up ahead, I spied something familiar - the big ol' hallway leading to the entrance to the boat (well, I guess it's technically a barge... but we call them all boats).

I entered the casino floor and noticed some things had been rearranged. Also, the carpeting was new, and the place smelled better than ever (probably because it had never been smoked in since the post-fire remodeling). Fresh air! Shiny things! New carpet! I walked along the left corridor towards the poker room - or, what used to be the poker room. What?! It's gone! And... there's a giant buffet back there! I want cards, not chicken wings! Gah!

I lapped back around the other side, looking for the poker room. No luck. I noticed that all of the other table games were gone, and it started to make sense. The slots took over the main level, and the table games must be downstairs. I had to hurry - I was going to lose my spot on the poker room board if I didn't find the place soon!

I took the escalator downstairs, and breathed a sigh of relief - there it was, around the corner to the right. The new and improved poker room. Bigger (maybe 5 or 6 tables now instead of 3?). Nicer - lots of TV's and more space between the tables. Centrally located - the deli is right there across from the poker room. Awesome :)

Oh - and they give comp points to poker players now! 50 cents an hour. Better than the previous comps (i.e. a big ol' goose egg!)

I was in for another surprise, though, as I sat down with my buy-in. They no longer spread the $5/10 limit game. Now, I was never really in love with that game. I played a heck of a lot of it, but mostly because Empress is 15 minutes from my house, whereas the Indiana boats spreading the $1/2 NL games are 45 minutes from my house (on a good day - an hour+ on a bad day). I do enjoy limit hold'em, but that's more because I'm a chicken and love math. I find that on my good days, I'm much better at no-limit (though on my bad days, I'm pretty bad).

Anyway, all 3 tables that were running were $1/2 NL hold'em, and according to the guy next to me, that's just about all they run there anymore. Limit never runs, and the $500 max NL sometimes runs. That's just fine with me - $1/2 NL is my game, and bonus - it's a $200 max buy-in (whereas the IN boats are $100 max /edit - thanks, Laoch! Looks like both Majestic and the Horseshoe in IN have $200 max buy-in's on their 1/2 NL games now).

I treaded water at the feeder table for a couple hours. Up $40, down $40, and back and forth. It seems like the main goal in a feeder table scenario is to get away from the feeder table with at least your original buy-in intact. I had a particularly disappointing experience with JJ that had me down half a stack at one point, and then the magic hit.

Two hands in a row. First, I flopped the nut flush in diamonds beautiful diamonds. I had a crazy guy betting into me on the flop, which I smooth called. The turn came a blank. He checked, and I checked behind. On the river, he shoved all in.

Money. Too bad he only had like $60 left. I called, scooped a sweet pot, and woke up the Asian guy two to my right who proceeded to recap the entire hand, praising my stealth ninja check on the turn. I'd rather not have the whole table clued in to any notion that I might know what I'm doing, but I won't lie - I enjoyed the compliment.

The crazy guy rebought for $100 and the next hand was dealt. I looked down at 55. I'll take it. It was a limped pot until the crazy guy raised to $10. 3 people called, and so did I, and so did the 2 guys after me. 6 to the flop.

It came: 55x.

I had plenty of time to wait for my action, and I needed it, because I was counting the dots on the first two cards just to be sure I was seeing them correctly. Did I seriously just flop quads? Yes, Virginia, there is a Santa Claus.

Check check check all the way around to the crazy guy. He pushed all in. Fold fold fold ME! CALL! Fold fold.

'dem's quads, bitches!

Just as I was stacking my new found glory, the brush came up and announced my move to the main game. Gah! Just as things were heating up!

I spent a couple hours on the main game, mostly folding. Picked up a couple small pots, and left when the action started to get really drunk and shove-happy. I know, I know - that's when you most want to be at the table: when the donks are making idiot moves. But I was happy to skate with my winnings and check out.

As I drove home reflecting on the session, I pondered the usual - things I need to improve in my game. I noticed one thing in particular that I have fixed in my online game but apparently not in my live game. I am reluctant to bet out in a live game, particularly when I have nothing but there are loose chips in the pot and nobody is vying to get them. Online, I've learned to steal blinds and bet after those stray pots. It often works. Last night, though, I wasn't doing that. There weren't many chances to steal blinds (as most pots went 4 or 5 way to the flop), but there were plenty of situations where I was in late position and it checked around to me on the flop or turn, with nobody showing any strength.

In my head, I assume most players on these low-limit games are calling stations - and they are. But when somebody finally did throw in a bet at these checked pots, they usually took it down.

That somebody needs to be me more often.

One dealer noted that Thursday nights are the best night in the poker room. I wonder what my evening holds....

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Be the One. Sign the petition. Restore the Gulf.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

I'm checking out the show, The Big Game, on TV while waiting for a SnG to fire up on Full Tilt. I'm actually watching it pre-recorded on my media PC - what the heck do I say now that I can't say I TiVo'd it? (I ditched my satellite bill in favor of Boxee and internet TV and the locals-only service from my cable company).

What's the deal with these "true poker player" badges on almost everybody's avatars on Full Tilt? They don't appear to mean anything.

I love Negreanu. I wish his mom could make me vegan food. That is all.

I also love Phil Laak (and Jennifer Tilly). They amuse me to no end.

What I don't love is this donk that insists on raising stupid amounts like 132. It bugs me the same way Walmart prices bug me. I'll pay the damn extra 6 cents. Just make the price $4.99 instead of $4.93!

I should probably have gone to the gym to run a couple miles instead of playing poker tonight, but I decided that a rest day day was in order. Really, I've just been too busy today, and now I'm too tired. Geekin' out on some poker instead.

I would love to get some local live poker in before Vegas (because Vegas isn't till December!)

Hellmuth looks like a freak kneeling on his chair.

Really I'm playing cards right now to occupy my mind. I've been in a really foul mood on and off today, as I keep getting bombarded with things to remind me of the apparent extinction of compassion in people. Poker engages the non-emotional side of my brain. I <3 logic.

Does anybody know where I can find hoodies that have the built-in thumb-holes in the sleeves? Thanks.

Made it to the first break in this 90 player KO SnG. Above average stack. Almost wrote "snack" just now. Heh.

An above average snack would be Trader Joe's roasted garlic hummus with warm pita bread. Or strawberries with chocolate. Grilled pineapple. nom nom nom

So I'm 2 episodes into The Big Game, and while I will continue recording and watching it, I think I still like High Stakes Poker better. I do like the extra statistics they give on this show, but I like Gabe Caplan's commentary better (though I do miss that AJ guy as his sidekick). Unfortunately for me, High Stakes Poker isn't yet available through Boxee, so my only option is to watch it on the computer. Meh.

What ever happened to Phil Gordon? Haven't heard anything about him recently.

I bet Phil Laak plays a mean duck-duck-goose.

And with that, I'm back to the game.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Pauly's book, Lost Vegas, is now available!!

Get it here: Lost Vegas on Lulu and get free shipping during their summer free shipping promo (no coupon codes required - it's automatic).

Mine is on its way! Can't wait to read it! Congrats, Pauly!

Friday, June 18, 2010

Oh, my pretties, it has been years... YEARS... since I've seen most of your precious faces. At long last, finally - I will see you this December in Vegas for the Winter Classic :)

I have booked at MGM, thanks to CA April for alerting me to a wicked sale that they've got going on (but only through tomorrow!) Here's the link - it's the MGM 3 Day Sale. Excalibur was even cheaper, but I've wanted to stay at MGM all my life (oh, my tummy is aflutter just thinking of it!) so I splurged :)

Woohooo!!! Vegas, baby!!

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Found this while catching up on blog reading. May try and enter tonight if I find myself around a computer at the right time! Good cause. Go get some.

OK, so Bill Rini made some excellent points about just how contrived the World Series of Poker and its coverage appear every year. Then Hoyazo came back with his ideas on why the WSOP is such a big deal (admitting that Bill's points were right-on). He then threw down the gauntlet, asking the rest of the poker world: Why do you think the WSOP is such a big deal?

Since I obviously have too much time on my hands (I LOVE SUMMER!), here's my answer.

It's my one chance every year to get a zero-effort fix of reality poker tv, except not on tv....

There are a few professional poker players that I enjoy watching. Sure, I TiVo "High Stakes Poker" and occasionally some other poker shows. But, like any TV show, the seasons come and go, and there's a long stretch of dead air and reruns in between.

I could make the effort to read up on various web sites what my favorite pro's are up to, but honestly... that's too much work for what little free time I've usually got. The WSOP and its coverage, contrived as it may be, brings me all the juicy nuggets I crave - including the back-alley deals and side stories that won't make it on the Big TV Broadcasts of the games.

It's my poker reality TV fix, via blogs. I love the tangents - the prop bets, the celebrity sightings, and even reading who Pauly pissed next to that day. Because even if I was there, I wouldn't be privy to most of that information (particularly what goes on in the men's bathroom), and the part of me that loves drama-for-entertainment with a little voyeurism mixed in for good measure thinks THAT is the good stuff! Oh, that, and, who won what.

And all of that good stuff comes to me with zero effort, delivered right to my RSS Reader inbox throughout the WSOP.

So, keep on keepin' on, my WSOP-covering-friends! Even if all you've got to cover is the Year of the Prostate Hindered Bladder.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Ding a ling! I won me another league tourney on Full Tilt Poker :)

My play in the poker league this season has clung to the pendulum of extremes. I either place in the top ranks, or bust out first. I suppose I like it that way - much less wasted time on the losing runs. With just 3 games left to finish out the season, I don't think there's any shot at placing in the top 3 (even if by some miracle I won the remaining games), but I'm pleased with the games I have done well in.

Last night, I was not expecting to win the thing. I knew I'd go deep, as I caught some cards early on and had a healthy stack. But somewhere around the 3/4 mark, I coughed up far too many chips on a hand where I was clearly beat but tried to push my opponent off of his hand. I gave up on the river when it became clear that his hand was much too strong to fold (I had second pair), but easily lost over half of my stack with the over-zealous pushing.

Then, the luck train rolled through and I split an all-in where I was a huge dog when the board came a straight, and from there on out I was back in business. It's strange how there is actually some form of momentum in poker, even though the cards coming down the line are completely random.

When it got down to 3 players, it was a tight race. We traded chips for what seemed like an hour, until finally I took out the 3rd place player and went heads-up with a 3:1 chip lead. My opponent basically blinded out, with no real massive swings, and I took the game.

I think the thing that contributes the most to my "good" poker days is, ironically, running. All of my wins in this league so far this season have come after I'd had a great run. I've only been running for 10 weeks (having just completed the Couch to 5K training program last week), but it really does seem to help me focus and think much more clearly. My brain feels "on" after a good run, and what better to do with an "on" brain than play poker?

I'm pretty proud of my play on those "on" days this year, and I'm pretty proud of completing the Couch to 5K program - so here's my shameless badge of honor (for the running part, anyway):

Couch to 5K Grad!

I'm running in what will technically be my second 5K race this weekend on Father's Day. I did a 5K at the zoo during Week 5 of my 9-week Couch to 5K training, and ran/walked it for a finishing time of 46:48. I am hoping to run the entire 5K on Sunday and beat my previous time. (Hey, it still counts as a Personal Record, even if it's only my second race!) If anybody finds themselves out in Oswego, IL on Sunday morning, come check out PrairieFest and cheer on the runners (and me!)

Maybe getting off the couch and beyond my degenerate ways is helping my poker game. I'll take it! All I know is, I feel better than I ever have before - both in life and in cards. Who knows what the future holds! But I'm looking forward to it :)

Tuesday, June 08, 2010

If you aren't reading Pauly's coverage of the WSOP, you are missing out. You don't even have to go anyplace else - he links up everything that is worthy of your time (and other things that are just plain amusing).

Go to the Tao of Poker. Do it. Do it now.

I never even finished watching the TV coverage of last year's WSOP because I thought Pauly's coverage was better!

I haven't seen the WPBT Vegas crew in several years. I miss the days of being half of a DINK (dual-income, no kids). DINKs have a lot more money to spare than SINKs.

Still, I live vicariously through Pauly's updates (and particularly enjoy the fashion sidebars by change100).

Saturday, May 29, 2010

As I've mentioned, I'm playing in an online poker league this year. It's part of the reason I took the summer off from going to school (because the league plays on Monday nights, and my classes would conflict). It's a good thing; I need a break from school. I work full time at a school, and I work part time at another school, and I go to school half time. That's enough school for me. It's been a crazy three years. Time for a brief break before I go back to real school in the fall.

I've decided to pursue another master's degree - this time, a Master of Fine Arts in a digital media program (that I will configure to focus on photography). Assuming I can get financial aid ('cuz lord knows I don't have the cash to afford such luxuries!), I'll start the program in the fall. I've already been accepted (which was pretty exciting, since they only accept 15 students per year into the program). Fingers crossed that all goes well!

The poker league will be done by fall, and I'm not sure if I'll do it again. There are pro's and con's to being in an online poker league.


  • It's online, so it's convenient. I was able to make our games even while I was vacationing in New Mexico or out of town at a conference.
  • It provides a regular schedule for playing poker, which can often get relegated to the back burner when life gets nuts. Having those regular games scheduled and having paid a league buy-in are good incentives to make it to the game.
  • It's an interesting dynamic to have a long-term series of small competitions, where any one bad night can be negated by better performances later on.
  • It's online, so it's easier to blow off. I'm not going to see these people to get ragged on when I miss a game.
  • Being online, I also find that if I'm not in the mood to play, or I've got other things going on at the time, I just shove my chips and log off. If I had to travel to a game and was then playing live with other people, in an environment with chips and cushy table rails and whatnot, I might take it more seriously.
  • The season is several months long, and it's hard to keep the eye on the prize over such a long stretch of time.
I haven't done particularly well this season. I'm around the middle of the pack points-wise, after having missed one game and blown off a couple others. I did win one tournament, which was fun, but I haven't dedicated myself to the cause as I should have.

Still, I'm glad to have a reason to play cards a couple times a month, because it keeps me in the game when life might otherwise find other things for me to do.

Have you ever played in a poker league? Was it a good experience?

Saturday, April 17, 2010

BBT5 - Bring it!

Full Details over at Full Tilt: BBT5

Tournament: Poker From the Rail
When: Monday, April 19th through May 24th starting at 22:00ET
Game: Deepstack NLHE
Buyin: $24+2 (or token)*
Password: 2010WSOP

Tournament: The Mookie
When: Wednesday, April 21st through May 26th starting at 22:00ET
Game: Deepstack NLHE
Buyin: $10+1*
Password: vegas1

*Winner also receives ToC entry

Tournament: Battle of the Blogger Tournaments Invitational
When: Sunday, April 18th through May 23rd starting at 19:00ET
Game: Deepstack NLHE
Buyin: Restricted freeroll**

**$2,000 Prizepool + 1st and 2nd place receive ToC entry

Tournament: Blogger Battle Royale
When: Sunday, June 6th starting at 14:00ET
Game: Deepstack NLHE
Buyin: Freeroll for BBT participating bloggers

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Donate online via my Walk MS 2010 page!

In 3 weeks, I will be walking in the Walk MS 2010 event for Team Kathy. We're walking for my cousin's wife's mom, who has battled multiple sclerosis for years, and it greatly affects her everyday life. MS interrupts the flow of information between the brain and the body and eventually stops people from moving.

Every hour another person is diagnosed with multiple sclerosis. For 20,000 people in Illinois and some 400,000 nationwide, that hour has already arrived.

It's not easy to pinpoint the cause of multiple sclerosis and so far, the cure rests on continued research. This is why I am writing to you: I need your help, generosity and support! Donate to our team, or come walk with us!

As a participant in the Chicago South Suburbs Walk MS taking place on Sunday, May 2, 2010, I am raising money so the Greater Illinois Chapter of the National Multiple Sclerosis Society can continue to provide programs and services for Illinois families impacted by multiple sclerosis while funding vital research into the cause and cure of multiple sclerosis.

The Greater Illinois Chapter utilizes approximately 88% of every dollar raised to fund programs that actively help people with multiple sclerosis and their families, public and professional education and research. A portion of your donation will help fund more than 350 multiple sclerosis research projects.

Please consider making a tax-deductible donation on my behalf to help me reach my fundraising goal. No amount is too small!! Online donations can be made simply by clicking on the link at the bottom of this message. You can also send a donation made payable to the National Multiple Sclerosis Society to me, or print a donation form and mail it to the National Multiple Sclerosis Society. Every dollar makes a difference in leading the movement against multiple sclerosis.

Check out my personal page to learn why I'm walking in this great event on Sunday, May 2. You can even check on my fundraising progress, and if you've made a donation, look for your name scrolling in the fundraising honor roll. Your support is so important to me and to Kathy and to all those living with multiple sclerosis.

I truly appreciate your support and will keep you posted on my progress!

Thank you!

Donate online via my Walk MS 2010 page!

Monday, March 15, 2010

It's a crazy game, that poker....

I'm currently playing in a league game on Full Tilt. I haven't done much this season, though in my defense I've had to play on the road (literally - while in the car heading to New Mexico) and in other less than desirable circumstances. But tonight, I have the joy of playing from home sweet home - with a full belly, working broadband, and no distractions.

We'll see if things go any better.

On the way home from work tonight, I got the urge to turn the Jeep around and head to the casino. I haven't had that itch in a while. It was hard to ignore! But I did. Had a league game to get home to!

I'm applying to an MFA program in photography. If I thought I was busy before, just wait till I get in! I've been taking undergrad classes at work in photography for almost 3 years now. I've accumulated over 40 credits.... figured it's about time I get serious. The degree will help me in my current job as well as in my freelance work.

Other than that, there's a whole lot of unwatched poker on my TiVo! I have to catch up on High Stakes Poker. The rest is for bored off-season days, but HSP is a keeper. I think the new season started....

That's about all my news. Time to go try and survive the suckouts from this 45% VPIP, loose-passive table....

Monday, February 08, 2010

I'm playing Rush Poker on Full Tilt for the first time and I feel like I'm on crack!

Not that I've ever tried crack but my lord this must be what it's like! Holy hell!

Gone are my carefully crafted, detailed notes on each player. No more wondering what that other guy had. It's mildly insane.

I chose to play Limit for my first time. It seems best suited for that, at least the way I play limit, which is pretty much by statistics and straight up math.

It feels almost primal to just go back to numbers. Glorious numbers.

I think I might like it.....

Monday, January 25, 2010

It’s mid-winter in Chicago. After a brief snow melt (and nearly a month under snow cover), those white flakes are flying again. I missed the recent WPBT blogger convergence on The Mecca (aka Las Vegas), and I am jonesing - both for casino action and for warmth! The internet can’t much help with the warmth part, but it can help with the casino action. How about online casinos?

When it comes to gambling online, it “pays” to do your research - even if you’re playing for fun and not for money. Visiting a casino online and playing for free is a great way to branch out and learn new games. You can learn the rules in a no-risk environment before trying your luck in Las Vegas or at a casino online. It’s also a great way to practice and improve your skills in games you already know how to play. (Heaven knows I’m still “practicing” at no-limit hold’em!)

If you’re looking to research your online gaming options, check out the web site Online Casino Spotlight. There, you can find introductory lessons on a variety of games like video poker, hold’em, baccarat, and PAI GOW! (Crayola digestion is optional). Explore some new games and broaden your horizons.

You will also find recent online gambling news, with up to date and relevant information. For example, you can find information on a Help for Haiti poker tournament hosted by a UK online casino.

The site offers easy-to-follow navigation icons, categorized by the various casino games - poker, blackjack, roulette, slots, craps, and video poker. Explore these games, or use the global search box (with the magnifying glass icon) to search deeper. The Featured Online Casino area offers welcome bonuses for cash players, and the top 10 online casinos are listed with reviews, including features, contact information, languages supported, and currencies supported.

Scratch that gambling itch and check out a new online casino. You might even make some money, if online gambling is legal where you live.

Good luck!

Monday, January 11, 2010

Is it just me, or is Full Tilt disconnecting a lot lately?

Playing in an online league game at the moment. Feeling a bit more aggressive than usual, kind of like I want to tear a few peoples' heads off. Hmm. Not sure if this is good or bad for my game.

A couple of us 'round here are trying to get a little midweek home game going. Nothing crazy - just a casual game to scratch the itch, so to speak. I'm hoping that'll work out. I miss live cards.

In other news, since going organic, I've started attempting to cook... and with that, I've added another food blog to the universe (as if we needed more of those). You should check it out, because as I add recipes and tales of my adventures, there will most definitely be something there you can make fun of me over. I promise.

Epic Organic -

I've had pocket 8's three times tonight. There's so much snow on the ground outside that I have no desire to deal with snowmen indoors.

Break time! We're playing shorthanded so not much time to type. Wish me luck :) Laters!

Sunday, January 03, 2010

First off, Happy New Year! Here's to a happy, healthy, and productive 2010 to all!

With that out of the way, I suppose I should recap my resolutions for the year. None are really poker-related, as - while I still love the game - I am no longer maintaining a casino bankroll for live play, and that relegates the sport to hobby status in my grand scheme of things. Don't get me wrong - if I had the money, I'd be right back in it, as I absolutely love live poker. For now, though, the funds just aren't there, and any spare cash I've got is being sunk into my other major hobby, photography - with the hopes that I can turn that into a profitable venture in short time.

No, this year's resolutions center mostly around self-improvement, and while that tends to be the case every year, I feel I've got a better shot at success this year due to the fact that I made some big changes a month ago and am starting 2010 already on the right track. I "went organic" in late 2009, cutting out fast food and soda, and eating almost entirely organic and natural foods. (This happened after I watched the documentary movie, "Food, Inc." - Don't watch it unless you want to be shocked and appalled at the industrialized food business in the US and the scary food-like substances you're eating every day). Terrifying stuff, really.

So, my resolutions include continuing to eat organic, and learning to cook. I plan to explore some local farmer's markets in the spring, and vow to try at least 10 new foods this year. (I'm kind of a picky eater, traditionally). I've also taken up yoga, so another resolution is to continue that, expand my exercise habits, and lose weight. Third on the list, I'd like to come to a decision on going back to school, and possibly start down that road - likely for another masters degree, and likely in photography. Lastly, I'd like to save for and take at least one trip this year. There are 3 on my current list of possibilities: New Mexico in February, for a portraiture workshop; San Diego in August, for the annual world conference of my guild in Ultima Online; or, of course, Vegas.

2009 was a pretty good year in my world. There were a few bumps (some water damage at my house, a little cancer scare of the girl-parts variety, turbulence with one of my side-jobs that ultimately led to my departure, and some man issues), but there were a few high points too (an all-clear with the cancer scare, beating out a speeding ticket, a few nice little road trips, a trip to Vegas with CA April, and some potential good things to come at the day job). All in all, even the bumps in the road worked out for the best, or at least the best for now, and that's about all I can ask for.

I matched last January's performance at the Trojan Wars game again late in 2009, coming in 2 spots or so out of the money. That tends to be my MO there - go just deep enough to bubble. One of these times, it will be mine. Man I hate rebuys!

For what poker I did play, 2009 was actually a profitable year. I certainly can't retire on my winnings, but I was able to make enough to help with the bills at some crucial times. I played more poker in 2009 than I did in 2008, and I'd like to even play a little bit more in 2010. It keeps my brain ticking, and I feel like there could be a decent win out there for me this year :)

So, as I look back on 5 years of writing this blog (yes indeed, folks - hellaholdem was founded on Jan 2, 2005), I can say with certainty that poker has found a permanent place in my list of things to do. I haven't made it out to the WPBT Vegas tourneys in a few years (I could have this year, but instead decided to spend that money on a set of Alien Bees studio strobes, and set up a portrait studio in my house), but I think of you all often and have even started back up reading my doggone Google Reader feeds. (Sorry, slacked most of 2009 on that). We will meet again!

With that, I'm off to hit up a SnG on Full Tilt, and enjoy the last week of the holiday break before I have to go back to work.

Thanks for reading, and for your support these past 5 years! Here's to many more :)